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  • Author or Editor: R.D. French-Monar x
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Several experiments were conducted in commercial tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) plantings during the 2004–05 and 2005–06 seasons in Immokalee, FL, to understand types of plant damage and potential yield reductions caused by hurricanes. Expt. 1 involved ‘Florida 91’ tomato seedlings damaged during 2004 by hurricane Frances, 15 days after transplanting (DAT). Individual plants were rated and categorized as best, good, or fair, 34 DAT according to plant size and vigor/severity of injury. Ten plants from each category were removed with roots intact, and dry weights were recorded. During 2005, 23 DAT or 8 days after hurricane Wilma, Expt. 2 was conducted to compare rescued and replanted ‘Soraya’ tomato seedlings. Rescued seedlings were left in place after the hurricane and others were removed and replaced with new transplants of the same variety. Expt. 3 (‘Florida 47’) and 4 (‘BHN 586’) involved the contrast of two yield seasons without a hurricane (2004–05) and with hurricane Wilma (2005–06) to estimate the effect of the hurricane damage on tomato 65 and 45 DAT. Fruit was counted, graded by size, and weighed for each experiment from 10 plants/plot. Injury caused by hurricane winds was most evident in Expt. 1 mostly in stem damage below the soil surface showed callous tissue at the site of injury due to plants being whipped around in the planting hole. Plants rated “best” showed greater plant and root dry weight, stem diameter below the injury point, and higher yield of extra large and total marketable fruit at first harvest than plants rated good or fair. Total marketable yields from rescued plants in Expt. 2 were double than that from replanted plants, and fruit matured 20 days earlier for rescued plants indicating that plants injured by Wilma recovered quickly. Hurricane-damaged crops during 2005–06 in Expts. 3 and 4 yielded 60% lower than that of undamaged crops during 2004–05. In the extra large size category, the yields were reduced between 34% and 12% from the previous season. However, hurricane-damaged loss of yield in the extra large category was offset by increased yield in the medium category. It appears that hurricane-damaged plants, when young, were capable of full recovery and normal yields, whereas hurricane-damaged plants, when older at the time injury occurred, were not able to fully recover and eventually produced only half the normal yield.

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